I don’t always manage stress and am frequently overwhelmed. How about you? I was wondering how I might help my children manage their stress better even though I’m not a good example of it most of the time–or so I thought. Truth is my offspring learn from me whether I’m consciously teaching them or not. They interpret what they want to do or not do based on their perceptions of my example. Am I teaching captivity or coping?
Probably a little of both. Do you hope those you nurture will learn coping skills somewhere else? How can you set an example when you are far from managing your stress?
Long ago I began research to help one of my offspring with coping skills. His perceptions caused him a great deal of stress that were manifesting in various symptoms. After the overwhelming task of finding a therapist fell through, and a lot of prayer, I found a book in the library one day called Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen. I learned that play is very effective means of empowering my children.
- Tower of Power: When child feels weak, uncontrolled, angry, scattered, etc. they imagine themselves going to their tower of power. When they enter they are filled with power to face their fears, control their impulses if even for a few seconds. Any moment of success is enough. Practice will lengthen how long they can maintain their power.
- Wrestling: yes I wrestled with my kids. I used all my might and they used all their might. This worked out a lot of frustrations and soothed some nerves. Arm wrestling or holding hands to push the other person out of the room are the most effective.
- Physical Activity: dance, basketball, soccer, riding a bike, walking, yoga, boxing, sword fighting, or whatever they choose my children are required to have 5-6 hours of physical activity a week. If they run short, no punishment is issued only reminders of their well-being and encouragement for a plan. If less than three hours several weeks in a row then restrictions are put in place–tv, friends, even reading. This is necessary for the brain, body, emotions, and spirit to function properly.
- Meditation: five minutes (or 60 seconds, depending on age) of stillness with eyes closed focusing on breath, muscles, or music. Focused prayer, downtime, quiet time are other ways to meditate. downtime and quiet time can include reading and music.
- Pillow Punch/Scream: This works for any one, especially if you do not have boxing equipment. Simply punch your pillow or scream into it for as long as needed.
- Music and Art
- The same as above plus Time Management: Teens need to have the responsibility to create their schedule and choose which activities, how long, etc. Discuss with them what might happen if they only checked social media once a week for one hour, would they have time to do chores, improve grades, practice piano? A balance must be struck between parent and teen expectations and what is for the greater good.
- Practice Self Care: this is the time to prepare for independence. The more skills they learn to care for themselves the better. Remember balance–they are only a kid once.
- Social Experiences: balance is the key.
- Volunteer Service
- Same as above plus try something new: activity, book, game, gardening, music, teaching others
It is useful for everyone to learn to forgive others and forgive themselves. Accept what you can’t change. I also find it very helpful to pray for others with similar experiences.
May you thrive in nurturing coping skills in those you nurture.